Friday, January 28, 2011

Be Still

Psalm 46:10 - Be still and know that I am God.

I don't know of a more difficult verse in the Bible to follow than Psalm 46:10.  After all, it is not as if we have been taught to wait for anything in today's world.  We live in a give me what I want NOW world that scoffs at the notion that if something does not happen then perhaps it was not God's will.

What does this verse say?

1.  Be still - Have you ever stopped just to wait for God.  Have you wanted Him to speak to you?  Have you wanted him to let you know you are on the right path?  Have you wanted his help to steer you from the wrong one?  Have you ever stopped talking (either out loud or in your head) long enough to hear the sound of his voice?  Read 1 Kings 19:11-13.

It is not in the cyclone that threatens to envelop us if we allow it.  Buziness is the direct enemy of stillness.  Being busy does not mean that we are accomplishing what God has intended.  God desires for us to have an abundant yet purposeful life.

It is not in the distractions that the enemy puts before us.  The things that so easily entangle us are sent by the enemy.  They are sent to steer us off course.  If the enemy can drive a wedge, he will.  If there is a wall between you and God, will you hear it when he calls?

Rather it is in the gentle whisper that we hear God. By taking the first step of spending time in stillness, we begin to prepare ourselves to hear what the Lord has to say to us.


We must be prepared and willing to hear it.  God will not lead us astray.  But we have to be diligent in staying focused on the will of God, not misinterpreting what we believe to be his will for our own gratification.

2. Know - We have to know that that we are listening to God.  How do we do that?  In that stillness, when you are alone, that is a perfect time to spend time learning about and getting to know God.  You can do this through devotions, through reading your Bible, and by talking with God through prayer.

By contributing your time to these practices, it is like any other skill.  It grows.  For any athletes out there, you did not just pick up a basketball and become good.  It took and still takes practice.  Learning to listen and know God's voice and plan for our lives is no different.

You can not KNOW the plans that God has for you (Jeremiah 29:11) if you do not spend time building that relationship with him.

3. He is God - Sounds simple right?  Yet how often as a society do we place other things before God, thus making them more important than God?  See Deuteronomy 5:7-8, Exodus 20:3, and Psalm 81:9.  Each of these verses talk about placing no other idol before God.  In today's society, often many other things take the place of God - money, success, drugs, sex, etc.  It is idol worship that takes the singular focus off God and places it onto whatever is held dear.

How many of you have heard that "Money can't buy happiness"?  Fill it any with any word and it remains true.  

But God can grant happiness.  God can grant peace.  God can grant understanding.  God can calm a storm in troubled times.  God can take your mess and turn it into success.

But before God will do any of those things, you have to bring your requests before Him (Philippians 4:6).  

Then you have a choice. 

You can try to force the issue and make things happen 


You can be still and know that He is God.  He has a plan for you and it is good.

Blessings to each and every one of you.  God loves you and so do I.

Pastor Jim

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Choosing the road

One of the more difficult books of the Bible for me has been the book of Psalms.  While some of my favorite biblical lines come from this book, the actual studying of the book has been something that has eluded me.  As I started studying this week, God has placed on me a willingness to further dissect this book to get to the fruit that it provides.  I hope that you will indulge me as I share some of my understandings and hope that each of you will contribute some of your own as well.

Psalm 1:1 - Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers.

Psalms starts with a bang. There is foreshadowing here.  There is the point blank teaching that leads us all to understand that we have a choice.  We have a choice in who we seek our counsel from.  We have a choice to not create roadblocks for others who are seeking God's face.  We have a choice to not ridicule or join in the mocking of those who want to gather close to God.

The reward = BLESSINGS.  Not that we should be seeking out something from God, but knowing and acting upon the knowledge that if we do not walk in the counsel of those that would lead us astray, if we don't block those that are trying to walk that same route, if we do not join the doubters or heckler's; we have made a conscious choice to follow the will of God and we will be blessed.

The challenge: Am I keeping good relationships that are supportive of my relationship with the Lord? Am I supportive to others in their walk or am I a hindrance?  When subtle influences arise that want to lead me astray, do I give in?  Do I bring others with me?

Right from the get-go, God let's us know of the choices - faithful or faithless.  And he allows us to make that choice.

What choice will you make today?

As quickly as the Lord tells us that there is a choice, He is also quick to tell us what it takes to support the choice of being faithful and following God's path but also what happens if we don't.

Psalm 1:2-6 -

2But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
         And in His law he meditates day and night.

3He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water,
         Which yields its fruit in its season
         And its leaf does not wither;
         And in whatever he does, he prospers.

4The wicked are not so,
         But they are like chaff which the wind drives away.

5Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
         Nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.

6For the LORD knows the way of the righteous,
         But the way of the wicked will perish.

What a way to describe what happens.  It gives a very clear expectation and understanding of what happens if we don't.  Yet it also gives a beautiful understanding of what happens when we are faithful.  We are like a tree firmly planted that grows, bears fruit.  We do not wither, we do not die.  We prosper in all that we do.

That does not mean that everything goes perfectly the way we want them to.  But in our lives here, we become a beacon for others.  We SEEK the beauty of God's face in our current life.  In our eternal afterlife, we SEE the beauty of God's face.

You will be tempted. Matthew 4 tells of the Spirit leading Jesus into the desert and that the tempter tested him there.  Will you cave or will you follow the example that our Lord and Savior left for us?

When your friend at work wants to gossip about a co-worker; will you cave or will you follow the example left by Jesus?

When you are tempted to slack off in your job; will you cave or will you follow the example left by Jesus?

When you are tired, sick and tired - will you throw up your arms and cave to the temptations that are flowing in your head?  


Will you throw your hands up in the air and ask God to wrap himself around you - to love you - to grant you peace from the storm?  Will you cave to God's love?

You have a road to choose with each decision that you make.  Will you make a conscious choice or will you operate on autopilot?  God awaits your choice and wants you to choose him.  Will you?

Blessings to each of you this day.  God loves you and so do I.

Pastor Jim

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Looking on the Bright Side

Ephesians 6:7 Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men,

Colossians 3:23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, 

Wherever you are, be all there.  Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God - Jim Elliot

Your enthusiasm will be infectious, stimulating, and attractive to others.  They will love you for it.  They will go for you and with you.  Norman Vincent Peale

Where has God brought you today?  In the everyday grind of life, how much time do you spend reflecting on the positives of your situation?  For many of us, we get stranded in despair wondering "Why isn't this going my way?" or "Why me?"

I have often wondered why things are occurring the way they are.  I've been told throughout the years that everything is what you make of it.  I think that is correct - but only if your making of it includes the help of God.  I know that I have spent many years not listening to the word of the Lord and it has cost me dearly.  I'm blessed in that because I began to listen and follow God's plan for me - my life has truly been blessed.

Friends have returned.  New friends have been created.  Family relationships have been restored.  Because I quit trying to do it on my own.  I began to follow God's plan for my life.  It amazes me daily how much my life has changed in such a short period of time.

Now don't take me wrongly.  Looking at the bright side of things does not mean that life is not hard.  The same hardships that faced me before still face me now.  But my perspective has changed.  As that has occurred, my ability to affect change in others has occurred as well through the blessings of God.

My challenge to you is to give it all to God.  The good, the bad, the ugly.  He knows and understands.  Trust me, if ever there was someone more undeserving of God's grace, it is me.  God understands.  God loves.  God forgives and forgets.  God stands by willing to place his blessings upon you if you will let him.  Give it all to the one with the broadest shoulders and expect....

Expect love....

Expect forgiveness....

Expect blessings....

Expect peace....

Trouble will come.  But rest assured as it says in Nahum 1:7 The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble.  He cares for those who trust in Him.

Is today the day you begin to not only look for the bright side but also begin to see the bright side?  Is today the day that you place your love and trust in the One who can provide you refuge and give you peace?  Can and will you do everything to display the glory of God?  Go for it and ask God to go with you.

Many blessings to each of you this day.  God loves you and so do I.

Pastor Jim

Saturday, January 8, 2011

In the Storm

The new year is now in full swing.  With the new year comes new opportunities for success and failure.  I teach people that I work with that mistakes or failures are really the only way to develop a path to success.  If there are no failures that equals perfection.  By my historical count, there is only One who batted a thousand, who hit everything out of the park, everything he said and did was good. (1 Peter 2:22)

Instead, we are humans who battle through the forces that are attacking us daily.  The storm rises out of nowhere and threatens to drown us. Then we remember we have a life preserver...Jesus.

But living in the storm can be unbearable at times.  Currently I am reading Still Standing, the Story of SSG John Kriesel.  It is a story about one of our local soldiers who was serving his country in Iraq when a road-side IED took the lives of two of his comrades and took both his legs.  John and Jim Kosmo (writer) tell a chilling story of bravery, loss, salvation, and blessings that have made it difficult at times for me to continue reading.  I have walked away from the book crying and not returned for a day or two.

Now you may ask, why does Jim tell us about what he is reading?  Let me tell you, at times when you share the word of Jesus, people have a difficult time seeing it.  This book and many of the others that I read, display us God's love and mercy in action.  They display (much like the Bible does) how the storms of life come and how, through faith, people not only survive but also get stronger and do more for the glory of God.

Sometimes people are already walking with God and the storm only further cements their relationship with Him.

Sometimes the storm is overwhelming and God displays his majesty by sheltering us from the true onslaught of what is facing us.

Sometimes we struggle to allow God to show us his love.  We forget that God uses all for good even the worst possible imaginable situations.  We try to shove him away.  We try to hide.

But thank God - He keeps coming back!!!  He keeps his arms open to us!!!

No matter the storm you are facing, PRAISE HIM!!  Ultimately only good will come from your relationship with God.  Your life will not be easy.  But your reward will be eternal.  Rest assured you are loved!!

Psalm 107: 28-31

28 Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble,
and he brought them out of their distress.
29 He stilled the storm to a whisper;
the waves of the sea were hushed.
30 They were glad when it grew calm,
and he guided them to their desired haven.
31 Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
and his wonderful deeds for men.

One of my favorite songs is "I Will Praise You in this Storm" by Casting Crowns.  I have placed a video of the song here for you.  Remember when the storms come...and they will come...praise Him.  You will not be alone.

Blessings to each of you this day.  God loves you and so do I.

Pastor Jim